Chapter 8 nursing care during labor and pain management


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Chapter 8 nursing care during labor and pain management

  1. 1. CHAPTER8 Nursing Care During Laborand Pain ManagementObjectivesOn completion and mastery of Chapter 8, the student will be able to dothe following:1. Define the vocabulary terms listed2. Describe three variations in cultural practices3. Describe alternative birth settings4. Explain three nursing assessments and interventionsduring each stage of labor5. State the significance of psychologic support duringlabor6. Name ways to protect the woman from infection7. Describe the cleansing of the woman’s perineum inpreparation for birth8. Explain the common nursing responsibilities duringbirth9. Name four items important to record about the infant’sbirth10. Discuss the immediate care of the newborn11. Describe the nursing assessments important in thewoman’s recovery period after birth12. Explain the physical causes of pain during labor13. Explain the role of endorphins in the body14. Discuss the role of a doula in the delivery room15. Name three nonpharmacologic pain control strategies16. List the potential effect of sedatives and narcotics onthe newborn17. List the advantages and limitations of pharmacologicmethods of pain management18. List two ways to encourage maternal-newborn bondingafter birthKey Termsanesthesia (a˘n-e˘s-THE-ze-a˘, p. 117)blood patch (p. 119)cognitive stimulation (KO˘G-ni˘-ti˘v sti˘m-u-LA-shu˘n, p. 115)cutaneous stimulation (ku-TA-ne-u˘s, p. 115)doula (DOO-la˘, p. 108)Duncan mechanism (p. 123)duration of contraction (p. 106)effleurage (e˘f-loo-RA˘ZH, p. 115)endorphins (e˘n-DOR-fi˘ns, p. 114)epidural block (e˘p-i˘-DOO-ra˘l, p. 117)episiotomy (p. 120)ferning (p. 108)95frequency of contraction (p. 106)gate control theory (p. 113)intensity of contraction (p. 106)Leopold’s maneuvers (p. 106)nitrazine paper test (NI-tra˘-zen, p. 108)pudendal block (pu-DE˘N-da˘l, p. 117)sacral pressure (SA˘-kra˘l, p. 110)Schulze’s mechanism (p. 120)The labor and birth process is an exciting, anxiety-pro-voking, but rewarding time for the woman and herfamily. They are about to undergo one of the most meaning-ful and stressful events in life. The adequacy of their prepa-ration for childbirth will now be tested. Labor begins withregular uterine contractions, continues with hours of hardwork, and ends as the woman and her family begin the at-tachment process with their newborn.The primary goal of nursing care is to ensure the bestpossible outcome for the mother and the newborn. Nursingcare focuses on establishing a meaningful, open relationship;determining the fetal status; encouraging the woman’s self-direction; and supporting the woman and her familythroughout the labor and birth process.BIRTH SETTINGSBirth settings can include traditional hospital birth settings,independent birthing centers, or home birth services. Theyoften are designed, in principle, to emphasize the natural-ness of childbirth. The nurse-midwife, in collaboration withthe physician, assumes the overall management of the birthas well as prenatal and postpartum care. However, some al-ternative birth settings are managed by a nurse-midwifewithout a physician present. In these settings, the nurse as-sumes a variety of responsibilities, including childbirth edu-cation and assisting with the birth itself.An important advantage of alternative birth settings tothe woman and family is that they have more control overthe events surrounding the birth experience. The woman hasan opportunity to decide on her activities during labor. Sheis usually allowed to modify her eating and drinking patternsand can select different positions for comfort during laborand birth. In addition, her companions and family are giventhe opportunity to participate more in the birth process.Some common obstetric practices, such as artificial ruptureCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. over home birth is quick access to the hospital facility ifneeded. The program usually provides comprehensive pre-natal, birth, and postpartum care.HOME BIRTHThe advantage of a home birth is that the woman is in fa-miliar, comfortable surroundings during the labor and birthprocess with family present. If hospitalization is not re-quired, some couples decide on home birth because it can beless expensive. However, the couple should know the riskfactors in making the choice of a birth at home. There usu-ally is a lack of equipment to handle emergencies, and theirhome may be a distance from a hospital and medical care, ifrequired. A community-based nurse-midwife usually man-ages the home birth.CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONSKnowledge about the beliefs, customs, and practices of dif-ferent cultures should be incorporated in labor care (Table8-1). Modesty is an important consideration for all women,but women in some cultures are particularly uncomfortableabout exposure of their bodies. Exposure of as little of thewoman’s body as possible is recommended.Pain expression varies with the cultural background. Insome cultures it is important for individuals to act in a man-ner that will not bring shame on the family; women there-fore may not express pain outwardly. In other cultures,women may be vocally expressive during labor and cry outor moan with contractions and request pain relief.Position preference varies with cultures, and there aredifferences within cultures. In many non-European societiesuninfluenced by westernization, women assume an uprightposition in childbirth. In some cultures kneeling or squat-ting during childbirth is common.A female care provider is preferred in some cultures.Regardless of cultural background, the woman feels morecomfortable and less stressed when her wishes are respected.The support person that the woman feels comfortablewith varies according to her beliefs and customs. Thewoman’s mother or a female relative (rather than her hus-band or male partner) may be called on to give support dur-ing labor. Women from a strong matriarchal family structuremay prefer their mothers or female extended family mem-bers to be with them during the labor process. Cultural sen-sitivity will assist nurses to be nonjudgmental and less likelyto impose their values and beliefs on women they care for(Nursing Care Plan 8-1).CARE MANAGEMENTMost women will come to the hospital after one or more ofthree primary events:1. Onset of regular uterine contractions that increase infrequency, strength, and durationof the membranes, intravenous administration of fluids, andadministration of drugs, are minimized in alternative birthsettings. If complications occur, the woman is transferred toa maternity unit in a hospital.IN-HOSPITAL BIRTHING ROOMSAn in-hospital birthing room (Figure 8-1) is a hospital roomor suite furnished to provide a homelike atmosphere con-ducive to the parents’ participation in the birth. The womanstays in the same room for labor, delivery, and recovery; thusthe setting is called an LDR room. In some hospitals, thewoman also remains in the same room during the postpar-tum stay, and that setting is known as an LDRP room.Siblings can visit and get acquainted with the newbornshortly after birth. In older hospitals with small obstetricunits, there may be a separate labor room, an adjacent deliv-ery room that the woman is moved into when birth is im-minent, and a separate postpartum unit.FREESTANDING CENTERS (OUT-OF-HOSPITAL BIRTHING CENTERS)Some families choose the out-of-hospital birthing center formaternity care. These centers combine a home environmentwith a short-stay, ambulatory health facility with access toin-hospital obstetric and newborn care. Their advantage96 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-1 A, A room used for labor, delivery, recovery, andpostpartum (LDRP) care. B, All the furniture opens up to reveal themonitors and equipment needed.AB
  3. 3. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 97Birth Practices of Selected Cultural GroupsTable 8-1ROLE OF WOMAN IN LABOR AND DELIVERY ROLE OF FATHER/PARTNER IN LABOR AND DELIVERYAMERICAN INDIANIs stoicMay have indigenous plants in roomMay wear special necklacesMay use meditation chantsPrefers water at room temperature to drinkPrefers chicken soup and rice postpartumARABICIs passive but expressiveViews keeping body covered as importantMay wear protective amuletsMay have low pain toleranceValues male newborn more than femaleExpects 20 days of bed rest after birthAFRICAN-AMERICANParticipates activelyIs vocal in laborWants only sponge bath postpartumAvoids hair washing until lochia ceasesCAMBODIAN (KHMER)Is stoic in laborIf walking during labor, must not pause in doorway(thought to delay birth)Does not want head touched without permissionColostrum discardedWill not nurse after delivery or eat vegetables in first weekCENTRAL AMERICAN (GUATEMALA, NICARAGUA, SALVADOR)Is vocal and active during laborMay prefer to wear red (a protective color)If more affluent, prefers bottle feedingPrefers chicken soup, bananas, meat, and herbal teaShowers postpartumAvoids “cold foods”CHINESEMay be vocal during laborMust not pause in doorway if walking during labor(thought to delay birth)All doors and windows to be unlocked (thought to easepassage of infant)Do not use first name of womanMay not shower for 30 days postpartumCovers ears to prevent air from entering bodyPrefers breastfeedingNeeds to be encouraged to ask questionsCUBANIs vocal but passive during labor and deliveryUses formal name at introductionMust stay at home 41 days postpartum and be shelteredfrom stressERITREAN/ETHIOPIANIs stoic but takes active roleModesty very important, must remain coveredPrefers breastfeeding for 2 yrRemains in seclusion 40 days postpartumAll food and drinks during puerperium must be warmHusband avoids eating meat during perinatal phaseHusband may provide support during laborHusband is not expected to participate but remains incontrolFemale family member is preferred as coachHusband must be present if male health care provider ex-amines womanHusband may whisper praises in newborn’s earFemale attendants are usually preferredIndividual family preference decides if father is presentduring deliveryHusband is expected to be present for support, but fe-male family members participate moreHusband usually does not play an active role in labor anddelivery but oldest male makes decisionsWoman’s mother may participateMother of woman preferred as coachHusbands are not usually involved in labor but must beinformed first of problems and progressTraditionally husbands are not allowed to be present dur-ing labor and deliveryContinued
  4. 4. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.98 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHTable 8-1 Birth Practices of Selected Cultural Groups—cont’dROLE OF WOMAN IN LABOR AND DELIVERY ROLE OF FATHER/PARTNER IN LABOR AND DELIVERYFILIPINOPrefers slippery foods (such as eggs) so infant will“slip through birth canal”Prefers midwife supportAssumes active role in laborPrefers sponge baths postpartumFALKLAND ISLANDS NATIVEPlaces keys (unlock) and combs (untangle) under pillowof labor bedHINDU, SIKH, MUSLIM, NEPALESE, FIJIAN, PAKISTANIAssumes passive role and follows directions of trainedprofessionalsMay keep head covered during laborPrenatal care started on 120th day of gestationShould not reveal sex of newborn until after placenta isdelivered (to avoid upsetting the mother if the sex isnot of her preference)Takes sponge baths postpartumRemains in seclusion 40 days postpartumHMONG (LAOS, BURMA, THAILAND)Is usually quiet and passiveAvoids multiple caregiversAvoids internal examinationsViews full genital exposure as unacceptablePrefers squat positionDo not remove amulets on wrists and anklesDo not use first name initiallyPrefers chicken, white rice, and warm fluids postpartumBottle feeding popularISRAELI (ORTHODOX JEWISH)Prefers nurse-midwifeMaintains modestyMust not be intimate with husband until 7 days afterlochia stopsMales are circumcised on the eighth dayFemales named on first Saturday after birthJAPANESEPrefers north part of roomMay cut hair and take special vowsIs assertive during labor but may not ask for pain reliefModesty is importantWill bathe and shower postpartumInfant may be exposed twice a day for a week with loudnoises and music to ward off evil spiritsKOREANIs compliant with health care providerAvoids ice waterIs an active participant in laborDo not address by first name initiallyPrefers sponge bath postpartumMay not wish to ambulate earlyHusband is not usually with woman during laborFemale coach is preferred, although father waits near la-bor room for consultationHusband must be present if male physician examineswomanCeremony of “A quqah” involves father shaving head ofnewborn and whispering praises into ear of newbornCoach may chant scriptures during birthHusband is usually present and makes all decisionsHusband may not participate in prenatal classesHusband may not touch wife during labor, view perineum,or view baby being bornHusband may participate from afar with verbal encourage-ment during laborWoman’s mother participates in birth processChants and throws rice to ward off evil spiritsModern-day husbands are present and participate duringlabor and deliveryIn modern Japan, husbands are compliant with health ed-ucationHusband participates in labor and deliveryHusband prefers not to be told in advance of fetal prog-nosisFamily makes medical decisions
  5. 5. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 99Table 8-1 Birth Practices of Selected Cultural Groups—cont’dROLE OF WOMAN IN LABOR AND DELIVERY ROLE OF FATHER/PARTNER IN LABOR AND DELIVERYMEXICAN AMERICANBelieves supine position is best for fetusSelects her preferred coachPrefers privacyAccepts pain but is active in laborWill not shower postpartum and ambulates onlyto bathroomAvoids beans postpartumUses alternative therapies for mother and newborn(see Chapter 33)PUERTO RICANIs active in laborPrefers hospital careKeeps body coveredDoes not eat beans, starch, or eggs if breastfeedingWill not wash hair for 40 days postpartumPrefers sponge bath and lotionsBRAZILIANMay not participate in coping techniques during deliveryNeeds to be offered pain relief optionsStays at home for 40 days postpartum except for medicalappointmentsVIETNAMESEWoman expected to “suffer in silence”Offer options for pain reliefPrefers upright position for labor and deliveryPrefers warm fluids to drinkSponge bathes only for 2 wk postpartumNewborn is not praised to protect from jealousyWEST INDIAN (TRINIDAD, JAMAICA, BARBADOS)Prefers midwifeMaintains passive role and follows instructionsPrefers bed rest for 1 wk postpartumDo not address by first name initiallyData from Nichols, F. H. & Zwelling, E. (1997). Maternal-newborn nursing: Theory and practice. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; Minark, P. A., Lipson, J. G.,& Dibble, S. I. (1996). Culture and nursing care. San Francisco: University of California; Lowdermilk, D. I., Perry, S. E., & Bobak, I. M. (2000). Maternityand women’s health care (7th ed.). St Louis: Mosby; Lipson, J. F., & Steiger, N. J. (1996). Self-care nursing in a multicultural context. Thousand Oaks,Calif: Sage Publications; Wong, D. I., Perry, S. E., & Hockenberry-Eaton, M. (2002). Maternal and child nursing care (2nd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby;Murasaki, S. (1996). Diary of Lady Murasaki. New York: Penguin Books; Leifer, G. (2003). Introduction to maternity and pediatric nursing. Philadelphia:WB Saunders.Use professional translators whenever possible. Family members may not accurately convey cultural preferences.Husband is in control of decisions but is not present dur-ing laborFemale relatives provide supportHusband prefers not be told in advance of serious fetalprognosisHusband assumes supportive role during labor anddeliveryIf not present during delivery, husband expects to be keptinformedPresence of husband in delivery room is discouragedFemale family member is preferredHusband is expected to remain nearbySexual intercourse is prohibited during pregnancy andpuerperiumFemale relative or friend as coach is preferredHusband is not present in area2. Fluid discharge from the vagina (rupture of mem-branes)3. Blood-tinged vaginal discharge (bloody show)Data collection begins at the first contact with the woman,whether by telephone or in person. Women are encouragedto call the hospital labor unit or birthing center if they havequestions about when to come to the hospital to be evalu-ated. The manner and expression or tone of voice in whichthe nurse communicates with the woman during their firstcontact can influence how she will feel about her birth expe-rience.PREADMISSION FORMSThe nurse should review the available preadmission forms.The prenatal record has information including nursing andmedical parameters, laboratory results, and nutritional guid-ance. Expressed psychosocial and cultural factors are alsodocumented.PLAN OF CAREA major challenge for the nurse is the formulation of a planof care for labor and birth. An individualized plan should in-clude the woman’s coping mechanisms and support systemsText continues on p. 102.
  6. 6. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.100 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHNURSING CARE PLAN 8-1Culturally Sensitive CareScenario: Mrs. G. is a 24-year-old G2, P1 patient who recently emigrated to the United States. She is in active la-bor and appears frightened. You are responsible for admitting Mrs. G. to the labor and delivery unit. Mrs. G.speaks no English and her husband’s English is extremely limited.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Decisional conflict (regarding the desire to please health care workers and desire to engage in culturalrituals and practices)Expected Outcomes Interventions RationalePatient will participate with nursein developing a culturally accept-able plan of care for obstetriccare.Patient will freely verbalize her de-sires when asked to participate inpractices that do not agree withher cultural preferences.Patient will express satisfactionwith the care received during herhospitalization.Assess cultural rituals and practices that are im-portant to the patient by interview with an in-terpreter if necessary or with a birth plan ques-tionnaire.Approach patient and support person in an un-hurried manner, allowing sufficient time fordiscussions with them.Explain to patient that she has the right to helpdevelop the plan of care and request that thecare include specific cultural rituals and prac-tices.Allow patient to engage in cultural rituals andpractices whenever it is medically safe to do so.Whenever possible provide choices to patients(e.g., “Would you like to take a shower now orwould you prefer to wait?”).Information obtained aids in the develop-ment of a culturally congruent individual-ized plan of care.Relieves anxiety and conveys a message ofacceptance.Patients/support persons are more apt tomake requests when they are informed it isacceptable to participate in the plan ofcare.Allows patient to engage in activities thatcan be comforting and can enhance hercoping abilities.Allows patient to choose culturally accept-able ways of doing things without feelinglike she is being disrespectful to health careprovider.Patient/support persons will haveall essential information com-municated to them in a mannerthat they can understand.Patient/support persons will havetheir questions answered.Health care providers will becomeaware of needs of patient/support persons as they arise.Whenever possible assign a nurse who speaksthe same language as the patient.Provide a hospital interpreter of the same sexwhenever possible and inform patient that allinformation will be kept confidential.Face the patient and support person whenspeaking and direct conversation to themrather than to the interpreter.In the absence of an interpreter, provide a ques-tionnaire in the patient’s native language to begiven on admission that includes assessmentinformation that can be answered with num-bers, yes/no answers, or multiple choice an-swers.Allows for direct communication betweennurse and patient and lessens risks of mis-interpretation.Knowing that the information they revealwill be kept confidential may encourageverbalization.Enhances communication between nurseand the patient/support person and allowsobservation of nonverbal communication.Can be compared with an identical ques-tionnaire written in the dominant languageof health care workers to provide impor-tant assessment data.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Impaired verbal communication regarding the effects of a language barrierExpected Outcomes Interventions Rationale
  7. 7. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 101NURSING CARE PLAN 8-1—cont’dAssess for patient/support persons nonverbalsigns of needs or concerns.Write down short yes/no questions and simplecommands you can use to communicate withthe patient/support person.Communicate with support person by usingsimple words and short sentences.Assess ability to read and provide literature topatients in their native language if appropriate.Use pictures, diagrams, flash cards, or body sig-nals to communicate.As much as possible avoid unnecessary commu-nication with others in the presence of thepatient/support person.Facial expressions or tone of voice used asthe patient and support person interactcan be clues that they have questions orconcerns.Allows for quick assessments to be made inthe absence of an interpreter. It is impor-tant to remember that some patients mayrespond “yes” even when they do not un-derstand the question; therefore it is impor-tant to look for agreement between the ver-bal and nonverbal responses or behaviors.When English is limited, the ability to un-derstand what is said decreases as the com-plexity of the words and sentence structureincreases.If patient can read written information, itcan be an effective way of communicatingwhen verbal communication is impaired.Can be an effective way to convey informa-tion or directions in the absence of an in-terpreter.Carrying on long conversations with othersin a language the patient/support personcannot understand can be construed as be-ing disrespectful and elicit unnecessaryfears and anxieties.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Impaired verbal communication regarding the effects of a language barrier—cont’dExpected Outcomes Interventions RationalePatient will freely express her feel-ings and concerns.Patient will verbalize and use cop-ing strategies to alleviate fear.Patient will state she is less afraid.Patient will have relaxed facial ex-pressions.Orient patient to the environment, equipment,procedures, routines, and anticipatory guid-ance of what she can expect. Use interpreter asneeded.Use events to identify or estimate when thingswill occur (e.g., before sunset, after lunch).Encourage family members to visit or stay withpatient.Encourage patient to express fears and concerns.Assess childbirth and newborn cultural practicesand rituals that are important to patient.Unless contraindicated or unsafe, allow patientto participate in those practices.Knowledge can reduce fears and anxieties byclearing up misconceptions.Many cultures rely on events rather than aclock to determine time. When patientscan anticipate approximate time frames,fear and anxiety can be reduced.Provides support to the patient.Provides the opportunity to correct miscon-ceptions or misunderstandings.Provides insight into cultural belief systemthat can be used to individualize a plan ofcare. Participating in cultural practices canprovide feelings of security, which help al-leviate fear.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Fear regarding the unfamiliarity of the dominant culture’s environment or childbirth practicesExpected Outcomes Interventions RationaleContinued
  8. 8. The teaching aspect of the plan should incorporate whatthe woman can expect in labor care. The care plan providesan important means of communication between the womanand the nurse (Nursing Care Plan 8-2).(see Chapter 5). The plan also includes whether the womanwill labor, give birth, and recover in the same room or betransferred to a delivery room to give birth. Also, the plan ofcare reflects the degree to which the partner will participatein the labor process.102 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.NURSING CARE PLAN 8-1—cont’dMaintain a nonjudgmental attitude toward cul-tural practices that are safe to implement.Provide scientific rationale for practices that arecontraindicated or unsafe and develop mutu-ally acceptable compromises for these prac-tices.Provide frequent encouragement to thepatient/support person.Conveys feelings of acceptance and de-creases patient’s fears of not acting in ex-pected manner.Knowledge allows patients to make in-formed decisions about adopting saferpractices.Increases patient/support person’s feelingsof well-being and self-worth.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Fear regarding the unfamiliarity of the dominant culture’s environment or childbirth practices—cont’dExpected Outcomes Interventions RationaleCRITICAL THINKING QUESTION1. In the absence of an interpreter or a questionnairein the woman’s native language, what other meth-ods can be used to obtain necessary data?NURSING CARE PLAN 8-2Uncomplicated Labor and DeliveryScenario: A woman, G1 PO, is admitted to the labor unit in active labor and placed on an external electronic fe-tal monitor. She appears anxious and fearful and states she is worried about the welfare of her baby.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Ineffective coping regarding fear, anxiety, and feelings of powerlessnessExpected Outcomes Interventions RationalePatient will exhibit appropriatecoping mechanisms and will beable to cooperate with supportperson and nursing staff.Introduce yourself to the patient and supportperson.Orient patient to the unit. Explain equipment,procedures, and what to expect before each in-tervention.Assess for signs and symptoms of ineffectivecoping (e.g., verbalization of feelings of power-lessness or inability to cope, crying spells, rapidspeech, inability to follow directions or makedecisions, muscle and facial tension).Explain all procedures before initiating them,use simple concise terms, and repeat explana-tions as needed.Establishing rapport with patient and hersupport person decreases their anxiety.Instruction enhances understanding of an-ticipated events. Knowledge decreasesanxiety.Allows for early interventions to enhance cop-ing abilities. Ineffective coping can increasethe perception of pain, decrease ability totolerate pain, and decrease comprehensionof verbal instruction. Fear and anxiety causethe adrenal glands to release catecholamines,which can inhibit uterine contractions anddivert blood flow from the placenta.Anticipatory guidance helps to alleviatefears and anxieties. When anxiety level ishigh patients may only be able to compre-hend small amounts of information at onetime and often require repeat instructions.Text continues on p. 105.
  9. 9. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 103NURSING CARE PLAN 8-2—cont’dPatient will be able to make in-formed decisions regardingtreatment options.Patient will express increased feel-ings of control.Encourage patient/support person to ask ques-tions. Also encourage verbalization of fears andconcerns and use active listening techniques.Explain pain control options that are available.Approach patient in a calm, confident manner(do not appear rushed). Remain with patientas much as possible; when you leave, reassureher you will be nearby and will respond to calllight. If central monitoring is used, reassurepatient that fetal well-being is being continu-ously monitored.Keep patient informed of labor progress and fe-tal well-being.Provide patient with choices as much as possi-ble. Whenever possible offer suggestions ratherthan giving commands.Assist patient to identify situations that she doeshave control over (e.g., positioning, pain con-trol methods, relaxation techniques).Encourage use of cultural/religious rituals andpractices unless contraindicated.Help patient identify coping mechanisms thathave been helpful in the past, review thosetaught in childbirth classes, and teach new cop-ing mechanisms as needed.Accept verbal expressions of anger.When patient is out of control or during transi-tion, provide firm, short, concise directions.Provide positive feedback for use of copingmechanisms and childbirth methods used.Allows for the opportunity to correct mis-conceptions and misunderstandings thatmight be contributing to fears and anxi-eties. Active listening techniques encouragepatients to share information, acknowl-edges their feelings, and conveys to themfeelings of acceptance.Reassures patient that pain control measuresare available and that she has a choice indeciding if she would like to use them.Promotes feelings of security. Patient oftenperceives the nurse as “expert” and experi-ences less fears and anxieties when she isperceived as being competent and readilyavailable. Knowing that fetal well-being iscontinuously being monitored relievesconcerns that prompt intervention will bedelayed if required.Reassurance that labor is progressing nor-mally and the fetus is doing well decreasesfears and anxieties.Decreases feelings of powerlessness and maybe helpful in gaining inner control.Decreases feelings of powerlessness and maybe helpful in gaining inner control.Can provide strength, comfort, and en-hanced ability to cope, and help alleviatefeelings of powerlessness.Use of coping mechanisms that have beenhelpful in the past may be successful in thecurrent situation. Helping the patient withrelaxation techniques and diversional ac-tivities can increase coping abilities andsense of control.Verbalizing feelings of frustration and angercan be an effective coping mechanism forsome patients.Preventing destructive behaviors (such asphysically hitting others or pushing beforecompletely dilated) can help preserve self-esteem and prevent injury to self and others.Encouragement enhances self-confidenceand provides the strength to continue.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Ineffective coping regarding fear, anxiety, and feelings of powerlessness—cont’dExpected Outcomes Intervention RationaleContinued
  10. 10. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.NURSING CARE PLAN 8-2—cont’dPresence of FHR variability. FHRbaseline of 110-160 beats/minand FHR accelerations.Absence of nonreassuring FHRpatterns (late decelerations, se-vere variable, absent variability,etc.) will indicate adequate tissueperfusion to uterus.Obtain an initial 20-minute electronic fetalmonitoring tracing.Continue monitoring fetus by continuous elec-tronic fetal monitoring; intermittent electronicmonitoring for 15 minutes every hour, byDoppler every hour during latent phase of la-bor, every 30 minutes during active phase oflabor, and every 15 minutes during secondstage of labor; or per hospitalprotocols/provider orders.Monitor FHR immediately after rupture of bagof waters.When bag of waters ruptures, note color andodor of amniotic fluid.Monitor maternal heart rate and blood pressureevery hour and as needed or per hospitalprotocols/provider orders.If nonreassuring patterns occur, reposition thepatient.If nonreassuring patterns occur, provide oxygenat 8-10 L/min by mask.If nonreassuring patterns occur, stop pitocin(oxytocin) infusion.Notify the health care provider of nonreassuringFHR patterns.Administer tocolytics as ordered.Assist with placement of internal fetal monitorsas indicated.Provides baseline status of fetal well-being.FHR baseline should be 110-160beats/min, with baseline variability of 6-10beats/min. Accelerations of 15 beats/min ϫ15 seconds are a reassuring sign of fetalwell-being. Nonreassuring findings wouldallow for immediate intervention.Allows for prompt intervention when non-reassuring FHR patterns are observed.When membranes rupture and the fetalhead is not engaged, cord prolapse (an ob-stetric emergency) can occur.Foul odor is indicative of infection. Greentinge to the amniotic fluid indicates thatthe fetus has defecated in utero, which oc-curs during hypoxic episodes.Decreased cardiac output or maternal hy-potension can result in decreased bloodflow to the placenta.Changing positions to the side or knee-chestcan relieve pressure on the umbilical cord,allowing more blood to flow through it.Repositioning also prevents supine hy-potension, which decreases blood flow tothe placenta.Hyperoxygenation of the mother’s blood in-creases the delivery of oxygen to the fetus.Pitocin intensifies uterine contractions,which decrease placental blood flow.Allows additional interventions that requirean order or health care provider interven-tions.Tocolytics decrease the number and inten-sity of uterine contractions, which allowfor increased blood flow to the placenta.Internal fetal monitoring allows for accuratemonitoring of FHR variability and givestrue intensity of uterine contractions.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Ineffective tissue perfusion (fetal) relating to impaired gas exchange during labor and delivery processExpected Outcomes Interventions Rationale104 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTH
  11. 11. NURSING CARE PLAN 8-2—cont’dNormal Apgar score will be Ն7at 5 minutesAssist with amnioinfusion as indicated.Increase nonadditive intravenous fluids as or-dered.Assist with obtaining fetal scalp blood samplefor pH testing and fetal pulse oximetry.Prepare for cesarean section or vacuum extrac-tion per hospital protocol when ordered.Provides a fluid cushion around the umbili-cal cord, which aids in decreasing cordcompression and allows more oxygen toreach the fetus.Corrects maternal hypotension.Provides acid and base levels of fetus and al-lows for prompt intervention if indicated.When nonreassuring FHR patterns, scalppH, or fetal pulse oximetry indicate fetalhypoxia, immediate delivery often becomesthe only safe option to protect the fetusfrom injury.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Ineffective tissue perfusion (fetal) relating to impaired gas exchange during labor and deliveryprocess—cont’dExpected Outcomes Interventions RationaleNursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 105DATA COLLECTION AND ADMISSIONPROCEDURESThe nurse is responsible for collecting data concerningthe woman being admitted (Box 8-1). Components of theadmission information can be obtained from the prenatalrecord and then verified or updated. Women who havenot had prenatal care will need to give more informationto the nurse. The nurse’s data collection during admissionis focused on three priorities: to determine (1) the condi-tion of the mother and the fetus, (2) whether birth is immi-nent, and (3) whether the woman’s labor appears unevent-ful. Most facilities have a preprinted form to guideadmission data collection. Women who have had prenatalcare should have a prenatal record on file for retrieval of in-formation.FOCUSED DATA COLLECTION FOR FIRSTAND SECOND STAGES OF LABORIn addition to creating an environment of trust and security,meeting informational needs, promoting relaxation, andproviding a support system, the nurse must address specificphysical concerns throughout the labor process. These nurs-ing assessments and interventions begin during the firststage and continue through the labor process.Priority activities are performed to assess the condition ofthe mother and fetus and to determine when the birth is im-minent. Several assessments relate to the safety of both themother and the fetus and therefore need to be carried out ina consistent time frame. In addition, any departure from thenormal progress of labor should be promptly documentedand reported (Fast Focus 8-1).Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION1. What is a priority nursing action when a nonreas-suring fetal heart rate appears on the monitor dur-ing active labor?Admission Data CollectionBox 8-11. Place identification bracelet on woman.2. Obtain necessary information for labor record.3. Document vital signs. Report blood pressuregreater than 140/80 mm Hg.4. Record fetal heart rate. Report rates less than 110or more than 160 beats/min.5. Determine whether amniotic membranes haveruptured. Describe any vaginal discharge.6. Assess uterine contractions.7. Monitor intravenous fluids if ordered.8. Document allergy and illness history.9. Document time of last food intake. Explain NPOstatus during labor.10. Obtain required consent signatures with appropri-ate witness signatures.11. Review results of laboratory tests from prenatalchart. Document blood Rh status.12. Orient woman and partner to unit.13. Secure the woman’s personal items.
  12. 12. DETERMINING FETAL POSITION BYABDOMINAL PALPATIONBy using abdominal palpation (Leopold’s maneuvers), theregistered nurse or health care provider can ascertain the po-sition, presentation, and engagement of the fetus. Abdom-inal palpation will sometimes reveal a multifetal pregnancyat the time of admission. Also, because FHR is best heardthrough the fetal back, determining the location of the fetalMONITORING UTERINECONTRACTIONSWhen the woman is admitted, a 20- to 30-minute baselineelectronic monitoring of uterine contractions and fetal heartrate (FHR) is usually performed. This may be continuedduring labor. However, if the woman is low risk, palpation, aless precise method, may be used to determine the contrac-tion pattern. To palpate contractions, the nurse places his orher fingertips on the woman’s abdomen over the uterinefundus. A summary of the frequency, duration, and intensityof contractions should be recorded in the woman’s medicalrecord (see Chapter 7). A guideline to assessment of con-tractions by palpation is presented in Skill 8-1.106 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHFast Focus 8-1Warning Signs of Potential Complications• Maternal fever greater than 100.4oF (38oC)• Contractions lasting more than 90 seconds• Contractions less than 2 minutes apart• Fetal bradycardia or tachycardia• Loss of baseline variability on fetal monitor• Meconium-stained amniotic fluid• Foul-smelling vaginal discharge• Excessive bleeding and hypotension• FHR less than 110 or greater than 160 beats/minSkill8-1Monitoring Contractions by PalpationI PurposeTo determine if the contraction pattern is normal and toidentify abnormal contractions.I Steps1. Monitor contractions by palpation. Monitor at leastthree consecutive contractions.2. Place hand on the uterine fundus. Use fingertips formore sensitivity. Keep hand relatively still because ex-cessive movement may stimulate a contraction orcause discomfort.3. Determine the duration of contraction: the time be-tween beginning and the end of the contraction.4. Determine the frequency of contraction (the time thatelapses from the beginning of one contraction until thebeginning of the next).5. Determine the intensity of contraction by the amountof indent that can be made on the fundus at the peakof the contraction:• Mild contractions are easily indented with finger-tips. They feel similar to the tip of the nose.• Moderate contractions can be indented with somedifficulty. They feel somewhat like the chin.• Firm (severe) contractions cannot be readily in-dented. They feel similar to the forehead.6. Report abnormal contractions:• Duration more than 90 seconds.• Time (interval) between contractions less than 60seconds.• Relaxation of uterus limited. Hypertonic contrac-tions reduce placental blood flow to fetus.7. Guidelines for minimum interval between ausculta-tion assessment:• Hourly during latent period• Every 30 minutes during active phase• Every 15 minutes during transitional second stage• Assess more frequently if abnormal pattern existsFast Focus 8-2Reassessment of Fetal Heart RateReassess fetal heart rate after the following:• Rupture of membranes• Vaginal examination• Ambulation (before and after)• Change in infusion rate of oxytocin• Administration of drugs (before and after)• Urinary catheterization• Expulsion of enema• Recognition of abnormal uterine activity (close, strongcontractions)• Decrease in fetal activity (as felt by mother)• If FHR is being monitored electronically, it should befrequently observed and documented according to theinstitution’s policyCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 107back is helpful. In a vertex presentation the FHR is heard be-low the mother’s umbilicus in either the right or left lowerquadrant of the abdomen. In a breech presentation, the FHRis heard above the mother’s umbilicus.MONITORING FETAL HEART RATEThe FHR should be assessed by auscultation with a Dopplertransducer or fetoscope if the woman is not on an electronicfetal monitor. The location of the strongest fetal heart tonedepends on the fetal position because the heart tone is bestheard over the fetal back (Figure 8-2). If the woman and fe-tus are determined to be at low risk, the FHR is monitoredand documented per routine (Skill 8-2). A sudden change inFHR or a measurement outside the range of 110 to 160beats/min should be immediately reported. FHR should betaken immediately after the rupture of membranes becauseany prolapse of the umbilical cord is most likely to occur atthis time. In addition, the FHR should be taken after a vagi-nal examination, administration of medications, and nota-tion of abnormal fetal activity (Fast Focus 8-2). A Dopplertransducer or a fetoscope is used to auscultate the FHR be-tween, during, and immediately after uterine contractions.Advantages of continuously monitoring FHR with an elec-tronic fetal monitor include the ability to evaluate FHR vari-ability and to identify abnormalities in FHR patterns.When a woman is on an electronic fetal monitor, the nurseshould closely observe the FHR tracing. The nurse should re-port signs of fetal distress to the physician or nurse-midwifeimmediately. These signs include (1) a loss of baseline vari-ability, (2) variable or late decelerations that persist after ma-ternal position change, and (3) persistent fetal tachycardia(Chapter 6 discusses electronic fetal monitoring). Meconiumin the amniotic fluid when the fetus is in a vertex position, asign of fetal distress, should also be reported.MONITORING STATUSOF AMNIOTIC FLUIDAnother important nursing responsibility is to determinewhether amniotic membranes are intact or ruptured. If theamniotic membranes have ruptured, the nurse should noteCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-2 Location of fetal heart rate on woman’s abdomen corresponding to fetal positions. A, Left occiput anterior.B, Right occiput anterior. C, Left occiput posterior. D, Right occiput posterior. E, Left sacral anterior.AD EB C
  14. 14. of cervical dilation and effacement (Figure 8-3). Vaginal ex-ams are contraindicated if vaginal bleeding is present (seeChapter 14). Maternal vital signs are documented everyhour in the latent phase and every 30 minutes in the activephase of labor. Fetal heart rate patterns are monitoredclosely, and frequency, intensity, and duration of contrac-tions are documented. A dry mouth may be relieved by icechips or lollipops but the laboring woman should receivenothing by mouth (NPO) in regards to solid foods becausenausea and vomiting can occur during labor and delivery,and the risk for aspiration is high.the time of rupture and the color, amount, and odor of am-niotic fluid. Normally, amniotic fluid is clear and pale andhas little odor. Greenish fluid suggests fetal passage of meco-nium. Wine-colored amniotic fluid indicates the presence ofblood and possible premature separation of the placenta. Afoul or unpleasant odor of fluid suggests infection.The nurse should perform a Nitrazine paper test, afterdonning gloves, to confirm if the amniotic membranes haveruptured. The test strip is sensitive to pH and will turn deepblue if amniotic fluid is present. The blue color indicates thealkalinity of the fluid. If leakage is actually urine, the fluidwill be slightly acid and the color of the strip will remain yel-low. Ferning is a characteristic pattern of crystallization inamniotic fluid when it dries. Ferning may be observed byplacing vaginal fluid on a glass slide, allowing it to dry, andthen observing it under a microscope. Urine and other vagi-nal discharge will not show this pattern.PHYSICAL CARE AND PSYCHOLOGIC SUPPORTDURING LABOR AND BIRTHTHE NURSE’S ROLEThe nurse documents the progress of labor, reports abnor-mal findings, and provides measures of support, preventionof infection, and promotion of comfort (Fast Focus 8-3).Position changes are effective in promoting comfort and fa-cilitating fetal rotation and descent. Walking, standing, lean-ing, sitting upright, side-lying, squatting, or knee-chest posi-tions are also effective. Periodic vaginal exams are performedby the registered nurse or health care provider with sterilegloves and a water-soluble lubricant to determine the status108 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Skill8-2Auscultating Fetal Heart RateI PurposeTo monitor the status of the fetus.I Steps1. Explain procedure to woman, and wash hands withwarm water.2. Illustrations (see Figure 8-2) show approximate loca-tions of the FHR at different fetal positions.3. Use Leopold’s maneuvers to identify fetal back. FHR isbest heard through the fetal back.4. Assess FHR with a fetoscope, Doppler transducer, orexternal fetal heart monitor.5. Using the fetoscope, place the bell over the fetal backwith the head plate pressed against your forehead.Move the fetoscope until you locate where the soundsare the loudest.6. Using the Doppler transducer, review instructions.Place water-soluble conducting gel over the transducerand turn the instrument on. Place the transducer onthe abdomen over the fetal back and move it until youclearly hear the sounds.7. Palpate the mother’s radial pulse to see if it is synchro-nized with the sounds of the fetoscope. If so, try an-other location to get the fetal heart sounds, which donot synchronize with the maternal pulse.8. Assess the FHR for 30 to 60 seconds.Average rate is 110to 160 beats/min. Report nonreassuring signs: FHRoutside the normal limit (less than 110 or more than160 beats/min) and slowing of FHR that persists afterthe contraction ends. Further evaluation may be nec-essary.Fast Focus 8-3Using Infection Control in Labor and Delivery• Use barrier precautions to prevent skin and mucousmembrane contact with body fluids.• Wear eye protection or a face shield when assisting in aprocedure where a splash of fluid can occur.• Wear shoe covers and full-length fluid-resistant covergown during delivery.• Use standard precautions whenever handling sharps(e.g., suture needles, syringes with needles). Dispose ofall used sharps in the appropriate container.• Never recap needles.• Review standard precautions (Appendix A).THE DOULAA doula is a person other than a family member or friendwho is trained to provide labor support. A doula may be cer-tified by associations such as the International ChildbirthEducation Association or the Labor Assistants and
  15. 15. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 109Childbirth Educators and adheres to a specific scope of prac-tice. Doulas may be hired by the mother or couples to pro-vide labor support, guidance, and encouragement to themother during labor and act as an advocate for the family(Figure 8-4).Because the physical needs of the woman are the most ap-parent, it is easy to emphasize the physical aspect of care andneglect the psychologic aspect of care.The goal of psychologic care is to make labor a morepleasant and satisfying experience and to allow more familyparticipation. This can affect the course of labor and thewoman’s attitude toward the father, the infant, and futurepregnancies. The woman’s response to each stage of laborand the nursing interventions for each stage are presented inTable 8-2.MANAGEMENT OF PAIN DURING LABORLabor pains exist for only a short time. However, within thatshort time the discomfort progresses from a slightly un-pleasant experience to intense sensations. To the woman inlabor, discomfort or pain may seem endless, and she maywonder if she can tolerate it. To the nurse, the process of la-bor is a challenge. Armed with knowledge of the character-istics of pain in the various stages of labor, interventions forpain relief, and comfort and cultural responses to labor pain,the nurse designs a plan of care for the woman. Workingwith the woman, family, and other health professionals, thenurse can meet the challenges of making each labor andbirth a safe and satisfying experience.THE UNIQUE PAIN OF LABORPain is a universal experience, and it is personal, unpleasant,and subjective (Nursing Care Plan 8-3). Childbirth pain dif-fers from pain experienced in other conditions in the fol-lowing ways:• Labor pain is part of the normal process, whereaspain at other times usually indicates illness or injury.• The sources of pain are known. The purpose of themuscle contraction helps in the birthing process.• The woman has time for preparation. Knowledge andskills can be developed to manage the pain. The sen-sation is referred to as a contraction rather than apain.Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.CervixAnterior fontanelFIGURE 8-3 Vaginal examination. A, Undilated, uneffaced cervix; membranes intact. B, Palpation of sagittal sutureline. Cervix effaced and partially dilated.FIGURE 8-4 The doula. The laboring woman sits on a birthing ballas her partner provides encouragement and the doula massagesher shoulders. (Courtesy Pat Spier, RN-C.)A B
  16. 16. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.110 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHStages and Phases of LaborTable 8-2STAGES OF LABOR ANDUTERINE CONTRACTIONS WOMAN’S RESPONSE NURSING INTERVENTIONSSTAGE 1: DILATIONMAIN GOALS: COMPLETE DILATION OF CERVIX, DESCENT OF FETUSLatent phase: cervix 0-3 cmContractions every 10-20 min,15- to 30-sec duration,mild intensity; progressingto every 5-7 min, 30- to 40-secduration, mild to moderateintensityActive phase: cervix 4-7 cmContractions every 2-3 min, 50-to 60-sec duration, moderateto strong intensityTransition: cervix 8-10 cmContractions every 2-3 min, 60-to 90-sec duration, strongintensityHappy, excitedTalkative and eager to be in laborExhibits need for independenceAttempts to care for own bodilyneedsSeeks information about hercareSome apprehensionApprehensiveIll-defined doubts and fearsExhibits increased fatigue andmay feel restlessAs contractions becomestronger, becomes anxiousBecomes more dependent asshe is less able to meet herneedsDesire for companionshipBecomes uncertain if she cancope with contractionsRitual activities or motions dur-ing contractions may indicatestrong coping strategies are inplaceMarked restlessness andirritabilityAmnesia between contractionsGeneralized discomfort, crampsin legsSometimes hiccupping andbelchingNausea and vomitingPerspiration on faceTrembling of legsIncreased vaginal showEstablish rapportMonitor maternal vital signs and FHRAssess status of amniotic fluid; if membranesintact or rupturedObserve voiding time and amountAssess coping ability, anxietyTeach breathing techniques if neededEncourage walking if membranes are intactEncourage woman and support person to par-ticipate in careEncourage relaxation if lying down (assist withtechniques such as effleurage) or sacralpressureOffer fluids/ice chipsWoman is kept NPO to prevent aspirationKeep couple informedContinue to assess and document maternalvital signs and FHR every 30 minProvide support and encouragementIf on electronic fetal monitor, observe fornormal/abnormal signs; explain monitor towoman and support personAssess status of membranesEncourage to void every 1-2 hr to avoid blad-der distentionObserve for full bladder (woman loses urge tovoid with epidural block)Assess progress of labor (cervical dilation)Registered nurse may perform vaginal exami-nation (see Figure 8-3)Provide comfort and safety measures:moisten lips, apply ointment, provide icechipsApply cool cloth to woman’s foreheadProvide back rubs, sacral pressure, effleurage,attention-focusing activitiesAssist with oral hygieneKeep bed linens dry and bedrails upProvide assistance with position changes,support with pillows, or walkingProtect woman from infection with frequentperineal careInform couple about labor progressContinue nursing interventions from activephaseEncourage woman to rest between contrac-tionsTalk woman through the contraction by main-taining breathing patternAssess monitor strip for normal/abnormalsigns (if on monitor); if not on monitor, as-sess FHR and blood pressure every 15 minRecognize woman may not want to betouched during transition period; recognizethis is a difficult time for woman
  17. 17. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 111Table 8-2 Stages and Phases of Labor—cont’dSTAGES OF LABOR ANDUTERINE CONTRACTIONS WOMAN’S RESPONSE NURSING INTERVENTIONSSTAGE 1: DILATION—cont’dSTAGE 2: EXPULSION OF FETUSMAIN GOAL: DESCENT TO BIRTH OF BABY, COMPLETE DILATION 10 CMContractions every 1.5-2 min,60- to 90-sec duration,strong intensitySTAGE 3: EXPULSION OF PLACENTAMAIN GOALS: EXPULSION OF PLACENTA, PREVENTION OF HEMORRHAGEContractions temporarily cease2-3 contractions to expel placentaUpward rise of uterus in abdomenVisible lengthening of umbilical cordTrickle or gush of bloodSTAGE 4: IMMEDIATE RECOVERY PERIOD (MINIMUM 1 HR)MAIN GOALS: PREVENT HEMORRHAGE, FACILITATE MATERNAL-NEWBORN BONDINGMay feel tearing open or split-ting apart with contractionsDesires medicationMay feel out of controlFear of being aloneDesire to pushSatisfaction if told baby is almosthereComplete exhaustionPushes with contractionsMay feel helpless, out of control,panickyRectal and vaginal bulging andflattening of perineumEager to get acquainted withbabySense of reliefExhausted but happy labor isoverEager to feed babyHungryThirstySleepyDo not leave woman aloneAccept behavior of throwing off covers, etc.Get blanket if woman feels cold; assist tochange positionsApply cool cloth to head when womanfeels hotEncourage voiding, assess for full bladderProvide support, praise, and encouragementfor her effortsProvide privacyEncourage “open-glottis” grunting push tech-nique when bearing down is spontaneousEncourage deep breathing between contrac-tionsAssess FHR after each contraction (if not onmonitor)Assess monitor strip for normal/abnormalfindingsAssess contraction for frequency, duration,and intensityAssess progress of labor; inform woman andpartnerEncourage continued supportRemain with woman at all timesCleanse perineal area (stroke downward)Provide necessary materials and equipmentfor deliveryAfter birth, give immediate care to newbornAssess woman for potential hemorrhageAssess woman’s vital signsAssess for excessive bleedingProvide nurse-midwife/physician with neces-sary materials (for possible episiotomyrepair)Take woman to recovery room (if in traditionalfacility)Encourage parent-newborn bondingNursing assessment is directed toward pre-vention of hemorrhageAssess every 15 min for 1 hr minimum: fun-dus location (height) and consistency (if notfirm, massage and report); lochia amount,color, odor; vital signs: blood pressure,pulse, temperature; perineum: episiotomyfor edema, hematoma; state of hydration;bladder for distention; fatigue and exhaus-tion (provide atmosphere for rest)Encourage mother-newborn bonding: holdbaby, breastfeedProvide privacy for woman, partner, and babyto get acquainted
  18. 18. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.112 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHNURSING CARE PLAN 8-3Pain Relief During LaborScenario: A woman in the labor unit is in active labor and 4 cm dilated. She states her contractions are verypainful and asks how she can get some pain relief.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Acute pain related to effects of labor and delivery processExpected Outcomes Interventions RationalePatient will be able to make an in-formed decision regarding paincontrol options she would liketo use.Patient will express relief obtainedfrom labor pain by the use ofchildbirth techniques learnedand/or comfort measures/analgesics/anesthetics given.Assess current knowledge of obstetric pain con-trol measures.Assess if patient attended childbirth classes; ifyes, determine the childbirth techniquestaught.Provide positive reinforcement and encourage-ment to patient and support persons as theyapply nonpharmacologic techniques learned inchildbirth classes. Assist with techniques asnecessary.Assess anxiety level and implement measures toreduce anxiety as needed.Provide teaching between uterine contractions.Teach patient pain control options available,giving the pros and cons of each.Initiate teaching/reinforcing of nonpharmaco-logic comfort measures that can be used dur-ing labor if needed (e.g., use of focal point, vi-sual imagery, breathing and relaxationtechniques). Assist with implementation ofthese measures as needed.Provide massage and/or counterpressure and/orassist patient to find position of maximumcomfort—standing, sitting, squatting, side-lying, hands and knees—as needed.If patient is considering an epidural, ensure thatinformed consent is obtained before adminis-tration of narcotics.Allows the nurse to develop an individual-ized teaching plan for the patient.Provides necessary information so the nursecan reinforce psychoprophylactic methodsof coping or initiate teaching of nonphar-macologic comfort measures that can beused during stages of labor.Positive reinforcement and encouragementprovide the patient and support person asense of control and self-confidence.Allows for early intervention to decreaseanxiety levels. High levels of anxiety canincrease the perception of pain, decreaseability to tolerate pain, and decrease com-prehension of verbal instruction.The patient is more attentive and can betterinternalize information when not in pain.Providing information allows the patient tomake informed decisions regarding paincontrol.These nonpharmacologic comfort measureswork by providing diversion during uter-ine contractions. According to the gatecontrol theory of pain, only a limitednumber of sensations can travel alongneural pathways at any one time, so whenactivities fill the pathway, pain is being in-hibited.Changing positions and using counterpres-sure may help alleviate discomfort causedby pressure of presenting parts on bonystructures, ligaments, or tissues. Massagehelps relieve muscle tension and provide adiversion to inhibit pain sensations.The patient will have to wait several hoursto sign an epidural consent if narcotics aregiven before the request for an epidural.
  19. 19. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 113• The pain is known to be self-limiting. It is anticipatedto last only a few hours. Each contraction pain has abeginning, peak (or acme), and ending that can be an-ticipated to help the woman cope during the laborprocess.• The pain ends with the birth of a baby.SOURCES OF PAIN DURING LABORFour physical sources are the main contributors of pain dur-ing labor. The intensity of labor contractions, the length oftime for cervical changes to occur, and the size and positionof the fetus all add to the length of labor and therefore in-fluence the fatigue and pain tolerance of the mother. Fearand anxiety result in muscle tension, which exaggerates thepain sensation of the labor contraction.The four main causes of pain during labor are the fol-lowing:1. Dilation and stretching of the cervix (stimulatesnerve ganglia)2. Uterine contractions (decrease in blood supply touterus causes ischemic uterine pain similar toischemic heart pain)3. Pressure and pulling of pelvic structures (ligaments,fallopian tubes, and peritoneum)4. Distention and stretching of the vagina and per-ineum (splitting and tearing sensation)GATE CONTROL THEORYThe gate control theory of pain has application to labor andchildbirth. According to the gate control theory, a gatingmechanism occurs in the spinal cord. Pain sensations aretransmitted from the periphery of the body along nervepathways to the brain. Only a limited number of sensationscan travel these pathways at one time. Distractions or fo-cused activity can replace travel of pain sensation. When theactivity fills the path, the gate is closed and impulses are lesslikely to be transmitted to the brain. When the gate is open,pain impulses ascend to the brain. Similar gating mecha-nisms exist in the descending nerve fibers from the hypo-thalamus and cerebral cortex. These areas of the brain regu-late a person’s thoughts and emotions and can influencewhether pain impulses reach the level of conscious aware-ness. Cutaneous stimulation such as effleurage may havea direct effect on closing the gate. The gate control theory,by using descending and ascending neural pathways, helpsto explain the effectiveness of various types of focusingstrategies taught in prepared childbirth classes, such asbreathing, listening to music, verbal coaching, and effleurage.Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.NURSING CARE PLAN 8-3—cont’dCRITICAL THINKING QUESTION1. A woman is in the early first stage of labor andstates she is afraid she will not be able to toleratethe pain of labor and asks for medication to “keepthe pain level low.” What nonpharmacologic comfortmeasures can the nurse suggest?Patient will have relaxed facial ex-pressions and be able to rest be-tween uterine contractions.Assess for nonverbal signs of ineffective copingwith pain and offer pain medications and/orepidural anesthesia.Administer pain medications as ordered and as-sist with epidural placement.Provide comfort measures (ice chips, petroleumjelly for dry lips, dry linens, etc.).Keep patient informed of progress made aftereach vaginal examination.Inform patient when uterine contractions reachpeak intensity (acme).Some patients are hesitant to make requestseven when they would like pharmacologicinterventions. It is common for women inmany cultures not to request assistance.Pharmacologic intervention may be neededto alleviate discomfort when nonpharma-cologic methods of pain control are per-ceived to be ineffective.Enhances patient’s comfort level.Progression of effacement, dilatation, andstation encourages the patient that she ismaking progress and that the discomfortwill not last forever.Knowledge that a uterine contraction hasreached peak intensity often promotes re-laxation, which reduces muscle tension andpain sensations.NURSING DIAGNOSIS Acute pain related to effects of labor and delivery process—cont’dExpected Outcomes Interventions Rationale
  20. 20. NONPHARMACOLOGIC PAINCONTROL STRATEGIESVarious nonpharmacologic measures for control of laborpain are practiced. Many of these techniques are learned inchildbirth education classes. These include general support,imagery or visualization, distraction, changes in temperature,touch, comfort measures, and baths (whirlpool if available).The nurse’s role is to assist the woman in using the techniquesshe has learned during prenatal classes and to encourage sup-port and participation of the partner or coach (Figure 8-5).The United States is a multicultural society, and the nursemust understand the cultural traditions concerning expres-sion of pain to provide culturally sensitive care and support.Fear, anxiety, and muscle tension increase catecholaminesecretion and increase pain perception. All laboring womenbenefit from nursing interventions that can relieve fear, ten-sion, and anxiety. The nurse must empower the mother touse her own method of dealing with pain.Acupuncture, external analgesics, and back massage providerelief because they help close the gate to the discomfort.CHEMICAL FACTORSNeuromodulators, also called endorphins or endogenousopiates, are protein chemicals found in the brain. They areproduced by the anterior pituitary gland and the hypothala-mus. They are natural opiatelike substances known to relievepain. Endorphins (and enkephalins) are similar to mor-phinelike substances. They are believed to play a major rolein the biologic response to pain. They may be produced bystress and increase the pain threshold, thus helping thewoman to tolerate the pain of labor and birth. Endorphinsare believed to make the woman drowsy and sleepy. Studieshave shown that the endorphin blood level in a woman dur-ing the birthing process is much higher than that of a non-pregnant woman. Women who have a positive attitude dur-ing labor and birth have more natural protection because oftheir bodies’ ability to produce its own endorphin analgesia.114 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-5 The nurse can best teach or enforce nonpharmacologic pain control during the latent phase of labor,when the woman is comfortable enough to understand the teaching. A, The nurse explains the electronic monitor thatshows the acme of the contraction has passed, while the partner messages the back and shoulders of the laboringwoman. B, The woman walks during early labor and leans on her partner during a contraction. C, The woman assumesa knee-chest position to ease the pain of “back labor” caused by a fetal occiput posterior presentation.ACB
  21. 21. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 115General comfort measures. General comfort can reducestress and thus reduce pain. Also, comfort measures can en-courage relaxation.Stimuli. It is important to eliminate sources of noxious(offensive) stimuli whenever possible. The nurse can try torelieve thirst, sweating, and heat through comfort measures.Repositioning the woman or adjusting the monitoring beltsmay provide relief.Cognitive stimulation. Several cognitive stimulation meth-ods (mental stimulation) of pain control may be tried.Imagery(imagining a pleasant experience) can help the woman by serv-ing as a distraction from the painful stimuli.Using a focal pointor asking the woman to focus on breathing patterns or a spoton the wall may help her block out painful sensations. This be-havior requires active participation by the woman.Cutaneous stimulation. Cutaneous stimulation, involv-ing touching, rubbing, or massaging (back or shoulders), of-ten decreases discomfort. Counter-pressure—a variationwith the palm, closed fist, or firm object pressed at the pointof back pain—is often helpful (Figure 8-6). Rhythmicstroking and massage of the abdomen (effleurage) during acontraction can also lessen discomfort (see Chapter 23).Note that some women do not like to be touched.Thermal stimulation. During early labor, women may finda warm bath or shower relaxing. A cool, damp cloth appliedto the forehead is especially comforting to some women inthe later phases of labor. Hot or cold towels applied to theback may be effective, or the use of a shower or disposablebottle filled with warm water can be used to provide warmthand mild pressure to the back.Breathing techniques. Breathing techniques change thefocus during the contraction. There is no right or wrongbreathing pattern, but rather the woman should use whatshe feels comfortable with (see Chapter 5). Breathing tech-niques can be taught to the unprepared woman while she isin labor (ideally during early labor).Relaxation. Even if the woman has attended prenatalclasses,she will need continued support in achieving relaxationof her voluntary muscles. The most effective teaching time isbetween contractions and during the first stage of labor.Hypnosis. Hypnosis can be a powerful labor interventionthat appears to be safe, is without known side effects, and haspositive physical and psychologic outcomes. With hypnosis,the woman retains a feeling of control. The nurse can maxi-mize the woman’s hypnosis experience by understandinghow his or her role in the labor room may be modified.Hypnosis is a technique that may be selected by the motherduring pregnancy; she is usually trained in self-hypnosis thatcan be used during labor. In the labor room the nurse mayhelp trigger self-hypnosis by using specific suggestions orplaying specific audiotapes provided by the woman. The la-bor nurse must not interrupt the woman during a contrac-tion when the woman is using self-hypnosis techniques.Characteristic signs of progression in labor may not be evi-dent in a patient under hypnosis; therefore careful observa-tion concerning the progress of labor is essential.PHARMACOLOGIC PAIN CONTROLSTRATEGIESPhysical factors can influence the intensity and duration ofpain that the woman experiences during labor. There aretimes when nonpharmacologic methods of pain relief needto be combined with pharmacologic management. Thenurse should provide support to the woman, who is ulti-mately responsible for choosing the method of pain control.The nurse can reassure the woman that pharmacologicmethods are acceptable and safe when they are given andmonitored as necessary. The decision to prescribe and ad-minister drugs during labor must be carefully weighed be-cause of the effects on the newborn. Dosage and time of ad-ministration must be calculated to avoid having the babyborn with respiratory depression. Because the fetus cannotmetabolize the drugs as quickly as the mother, the fetal re-sponse may be intense and last much longer (Box 8-2).Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-6 Sacral pressure applied by the partner during earlylabor.Basic Principles That Influence Choiceof Drug Given During LaborBox 8-2• The drug should provide maximum relief to thewoman, with minimal risk to the fetus.• The drug should have minimal side effects.• Labor should be well established.• If the drug affects uterine contractions, it should begiven with the woman’s knowledge.• Adequate fetal monitoring and emergency equip-ment should be available.• The drug must allow the uterus to contract duringthe postpartum period. (Some general anestheticsrelax the uterus and increase bleeding.)• Drugs should not be given if less than 1 hour re-mains before delivery because after birth the infantmay have difficulty in metabolizing them and mayhave respiratory depression.• Women with a history of substance abuse havefewer safe choices for pain relief.• Drugs cross the placenta and may cause neonatalrespiratory depression.
  22. 22. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.116 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHRegional Anesthesia Used During Labor and BirthTable 8-3TYPE OF PROCEDURE AREA AND EFFECT OF BLOCK WHEN GIVEN MAJOR DISADVANTAGES NURSING INTERVENTIONSPudendal block:Local anestheticinjected trans-vaginally intospace in front ofpudendal nerveEpidural block:Local anestheticinjected into epi-dural space atlevel of fourth orfifth lumbar verte-brae (caudal blockis achieved at levelof sacral hiatusand is rarely usedtoday)Spinal block: Localanesthetic injectedinto spinal fluid atthird, fourth, orfifth lumbar inter-spaceParacervical nerveblock: Lidocaine isinjected intocervical mucosaPerineum, vulva, rec-tal area; causes per-ineal anesthesia forrepair of episiotomyor lacerationsAffects all sensationsfrom the level ofthe umbilicus to thethighs; relieves dis-comfort of uterinecontractions and fe-tal descent andanesthetizes per-ineumAffects all sensationsfrom the level ofthe nipple to thefeet; given for vagi-nal birth and ce-sarean birthUsed early in labor toblock pain of uter-ine contractionsLate second stage(10-20 min beforebirth of baby)Active labor (4 cmdilated) to relievepainIn late second stageor before ce-sarean birth;numbs body fromnipples to feetGiven during firststage of laborBroad ligamenthematomaMaternal hypoten-sion, fetal brady-cardia, loss ofbearing-down re-flex in secondstageMaternal hypoten-sion, fetal brady-cardia, loss ofbearing-down re-flex in secondstage, potentialheadacheCauses fetal brady-cardia; impropertechnique can re-sult in serious tox-icityInstruct patientabout method,provide support,assess forhematomaPosition patient asrequired, instructpatient aboutmethod, assessmaternal bloodpressure andpulse every 15min; assess FHR,assess maternalbladder at fre-quent intervals, donot let womanambulate aloneuntil all motor con-trol has returned,assess for ortho-static hypotensionInstruct patientabout method, as-sess maternal vitalsigns every 10min, assess uter-ine contractions,hypotension, as-sess level of anes-thesia, assessFHR tracing, pro-vide safety andprevent injurywhen womanmoves, recognizesigns of impend-ing birthRarely used today;closely monitor la-bor progress be-cause patientdoes not feel sen-sations or contrac-tionsDuring the first stage of labor, administration of drugsmay affect the progress of labor. If an analgesic is given toosoon during the latent phase, it may slow down the labor.Labor should be well established, with a cervical dilation of4 cm (in active labor) before the woman receives medica-tion. As labor progresses, some women may need medica-tion to help them to relax. It is important to record the timeand amount given, and the woman’s vital signs should alsobe recorded.Various forms of pain medication can be used in labor;herbal pain remedies may also be used in some culturesto reduce pain. It is best for the woman to have the optionsdiscussed during early labor, when designing her birthplan (see Chapter 5). Analgesics during labor may reducethe hormonal and stress response to the pain of labor and beespecially advantageous to the obese or hypertensivewoman.
  23. 23. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 117AnalgesiaParenteral opioids can reduce gastric emptying, thus in-creasing the risk of aspiration if food or fluids are in thestomach. Careful monitoring of vital signs and FHR isessential when these analgesics are used. Analgesics usedto reduce the perception of pain in labor include the fol-lowing:• Meperidine (Demerol) is the most common opioidused during labor. It has a rapid onset of action andlasts 2 to 4 hours. Ideally, birth should occur less than1 hour or more than 4 hours after administration ofopioids so that the newborn will not have centralnervous system (CNS) depression that will requireresuscitation.• Sublimaze (Fentanyl) is a short-acting opioid agonistthat lasts approximately 1 to 2 hours. Respiratory de-pression can occur. This drug is often used in combi-nation with regional anesthesia.• Butorphanol (Stadol) and nalbuphine (Nubain) areopioid agonist-antagonist drugs that relieve pain andnausea without causing respiratory depression in themother or newborn. These medications must not begiven to women with drug dependence because awithdrawal response may be precipitated in bothmother and newborn (Hawkins, 2002).• Naloxone (Narcan) should be available for use tocounter the effects of respiratory depression in thenewborn. Naloxone is also used to relieve maternalitching that commonly occurs as a side effect ofepidural anesthesia. Naloxone is used as an adjunct tooxygenation, ventilation, and gentle stimulation in thetreatment of newborn respiratory depression. Opioidsmay remain in the system of the newborn for severaldays and cause temporary alterations in neurobehav-ioral responses of the newborn (Gabbe, 2002).SedativesSedatives do not produce relief of pain. Sedatives may relieveanxiety and nausea, but they do cross the placenta, affect thefetus, and usually have no antagonists (reversing agent) toassist the newborn who may have respiratory depression.Sedatives may inhibit the mother’s ability to cope with thepain of labor and therefore are not usually used during ac-tive labor.AtaracticsPhenothiazine medications such as promethazine (Phen-ergan) or hydroxyzine (Vistaril) can control nausea and anx-iety and reduce narcotic requirements during labor. Thesedrugs do not relieve pain and are used in conjunction withopioids.Benzodiazepine drugs such as diazepam (Valium) arerarely used in obstetrics because of their depressive effects.Flumazenil is a benzodiazepine antagonist that can help re-verse drug-induced sedation and ventilatory depression.AnesthesiaTwo types of anesthesia used in labor care are regionalblocks and general anesthesia. The most commonly used re-gional blocks are listed in Table 8-3.Regional anesthesia. With regional anesthesia, thewoman is able to participate in the birth and retains her pro-tective airway reflexes, both of which are advantages. The in-jection sites of regional anesthetics are shown in Figure 8-7.The pudendal block is given when the woman is ready fordelivery. It anesthetizes the lower vagina and part of the per-ineum (Figure 8-8).In an epidural block, the anesthetic is injected into theepidural space, which is located inside the vertebral columnsurrounding the dural sac in the lumbar region of the spine.An epidural block can be given during the first and secondstages of labor. A spinal subarachnoid block is commonlyused for cesarean births. Frequent monitoring of maternalvital signs and fetal monitoring are important, and it is sig-nificant to observe the level of anesthesia (Figure 8-9).The use of epidural and intrathecal opioids without ananesthetic agent allows the woman to sense the contractionswithout feeling pain; in addition, the ability to bear downduring the second stage of labor is not lost. This modifica-tion may also be helpful in postoperative caesarean sectionpain relief because motor ability is not lost. A “walkingepidural”is achieved when an opioid is injected into the sub-arachnoid space, providing rapid pain relief with smalldoses. This is known as a spinal epidural or coaxial tech-nique.Contraindications to epidural and subarachnoid blocks.Because hypotension is a common side effect of epiduraland subarachnoid blocks, a woman who has hypovolemia(such as a hemorrhage) would have difficulty maintainingblood pressure and adequate uteroplacental perfusion.Anticoagulant therapy or a bleeding-clotting disorder maylead to formation of a hematoma at the injection site withserious consequences. As with other medications, allergy orinfection at the injection site would also be a contraindica-tion to epidural and spinal analgesia.Side effects of regional anesthesia and the nursing role.The nurse should witness that informed consent was ob-tained for administration of regional anesthesia and clarifyinformation with the woman and her partner. The woman’sbladder is emptied and the nurse assists with positioningduring the administration procedure. Hypotension is a com-mon side effect of regional anesthesia, so frequent monitor-ing of blood pressure is essential. Hypotension can decreaseuteroplacental blood perfusion; therefore close monitoringof fetal heart patterns is also essential. Intravenous fluidsmay be prescribed to prevent or treat dehydration. Ringer’slactate solution or normal saline is most often used becausea glucose-containing solution causes the fetus to increase in-sulin production, which can result in hypoglycemia at birth.Glucose also causes an increase in kidney excretion of urine,and because the woman cannot sense the urge to void theCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.118 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHSite for paracervical blockThoracic 11 and 12Lumbar 1–5(site for lumbar epiduraland spinal blocks)Sacral vertebrae(site for caudalepidural block)Pudendal nerveSite for pudendal blockFIGURE 8-7 Injection sites of regional anesthetics.FIGURE 8-8 Pudendal block provides localanesthesia that is adequate for an epi-siotomy and use of low forceps.FIGURE 8-9 Levels of anesthesia for epidural and subarachnoid blocks.
  25. 25. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 119nurse must be observant for a distended bladder and main-tain an accurate intake and output. Because sensation is al-tered, position changes should be initiated by the nurse topreserve skin integrity. The upright position should be in-cluded in position changes. Itching (pruritus) is a commonside effect of regional anesthesia and can be managed with avariety of comfort measures.If an intramuscular medication is ordered for a womanreceiving regional anesthesia, the upper arm (deltoid) site ispreferred because of the predictable absorption rate (Bricke,2002).The second stage of labor may be prolonged whenepidural anesthesia is used, but recent research has notshown any ill effects (Gabbe, 2002).Toxicity to local anesthetics is a rare occurrence, but thenurse must be alert for symptoms such as disorientation, ring-ing in the ears, twitching, and convulsions. Hypothermia is acommon side effect after birth because of vasodilation and ra-diant heat loss. Wet linen should be removed, the room keptwarm, and the woman covered with warm blankets after deliv-ery.A headache may occur after a spinal block because of cere-brospinal fluid leakage at the site of puncture. A blood patchoften provides dramatic relief (Figure 8-10). The womanshould be advised to avoid straining during bowel movementsor coughing for a few days after a blood patch procedure.General anesthesia. General anesthesia is rarely given forvaginal births. It is sometimes used in an emergency ce-sarean birth when the woman is not a good candidate for thespinal block. It relieves pain through the loss of conscious-ness. General anesthesia puts the woman at risk for regurgi-tation and aspiration of gastric contents. The gastric con-tents are highly acid and produce chemical pneumonitis ifaspirated. Administering drugs to raise the gastric pH andmake secretions less acidic reduces the risk of lung injury.General anesthesia crosses the placental barrier, and the fe-tus will be under its effects at birth, making resuscitation andestablishment of initial respiration a challenge.PROVISION OF CARE DURING THE FOUR STAGESOF LABORBIRTH OF THE BABYSigns of impending birth are listed in Box 8-3. Most of thecomfort measures suggested for the first stage remain appro-priate during the second stage of labor (which begins withthe cervix being completely dilated and ends with the birthof the baby). As the head descends, the woman has the urgeto push because of pressure of the fetal head on the sacralnerves and the rectum. The woman should take a cleansingbreath before each contraction to keep oxygen and carbondioxide levels in balance. She should use the open-glottismethod for pushing, in which air is released during pushing,so that intrathoracic pressure does not build up. Somewomen might find it helpful to pull back on their kneeswhile pushing. The additional pressure plus the uterine con-tractions helps the fetal head descend through the birthcanal. Some women experience intense physical exertion bypushing and may feel a tearing sensation. The perineum be-gins to bulge and flatten, and soon the baby’s head appears.The fetal head distends the perineum, and the physician ornurse-midwife applies gentle, firm support on the head inthe direction of the perineum to maintain flexion. The forceof the next one or two contractions and maternal effort willusually deliver the infant’s head. After the head is delivered,the woman is asked to stop pushing. The physician or mid-wife wipes the baby’s face with gauze sponges and uses abulb syringe to suction the mouth first and then the nose.The physician or nurse-midwife checks the baby’s neck forthe umbilical cord. If the cord is present around the neck, itis usually long enough to be slipped over the head; however,it may be necessary to clamp and cut the cord first.Meanwhile, the head realigns itself with the shoulders (ex-ternal rotation). The woman may be asked to steadily beardown with the next contraction to deliver the shoulders. Therest of the baby’s body will quickly follow. The newborn isdried (to minimize the loss of heat), and often is placed onCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-10 Blood patch for relief of spinal headache.Signs of Impending BirthBox 8-3Specific behaviors may suggest that birth is imminent,such as:• Sitting on one buttock• Making grunting sounds• Involuntarily bearing down with contractions• Stating “the baby is coming”• Bulging of the perineumIf birth appears imminent, the nurse should not leavethe woman alone, should prepare for precipitate birth,and summon help with the call bell.
  26. 26. The health care provider and partner coach the womanthrough the second stage of labor (Figure 8-13).If the physician or nurse-midwife elects to perform anepisiotomy (an incision into the perineum, performed dur-ing the second stage to enlarge the perineal opening to pre-vent tearing as the head of the fetus is born), the circulatingnurse opens the appropriate instruments and sutures for re-pair once the placenta has been delivered.EXPULSION OF PLACENTAThe third stage of labor begins after the birth of the baby andends with the expulsion of the placenta. After the delivery ofthe baby, the uterus rapidly shrinks. The placenta, however,does not decrease in size; thus as the placental site becomessmaller, the placenta begins to buckle and then separates; asthe uterus contracts, it is expelled. The placenta is usually ex-pelled within 15 to 30 minutes after the baby is delivered.Signs of imminent delivery of the placenta include lengthen-ing of the umbilical cord, a gush of blood from the vagina,and an elevation of the uterine fundus. The gush of bloodmay come after the placenta is delivered if the fetal side ofthe placenta is expelled first (Schulze’s mechanism); thegush of blood may come just before the delivery of the pla-the mother’s abdomen, after which the umbilical cord isclamped. If the husband/partner is present, it is ideal to al-low him to participate in the experience of cutting the um-bilical cord. The baby may be placed on the mother’s chest,with skin-to-skin contact providing warmth to the newbornand establishing mother-infant bonding.NURSING CARE DURINGTHE DELIVERYThe woman most often delivers in the same room where shehas labored. The maternal position for birth varies from alithotomy position, to one in which her feet rest on a footrestwhile she holds a bar, to a side-lying position with thewoman’s upper leg held by the coach. Once the woman ispositioned for birth, her vulva and perineum are cleansed(Figure 8-11). The nurse prepares the delivery table for use(Figure 8-12). The nurse (usually the same nurse as the labornurse) continues to monitor the FHR every 5 to 15 minutes.To protect all the care providers in the delivery room, eachwears splash-resistant gowns, gloves, and face masks that in-corporate eye shields or goggles. The physician or nurse-midwife will have carried out appropriate hand washing(surgical scrub) before putting on the sterile barrier attire.120 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.13 4 5 26FIGURE 8-11 Cleansing the perineum before delivery. Thenurse follows the pattern of the numbered diagram with pre-pared sponges or cotton balls for each area. Note the down-ward strokes from the vagina toward the rectum.FIGURE 8-12 Sterile delivery table arranged in a convenient order.
  27. 27. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 121FIGURE 8-13 The birth of the baby. A, The physician palpatesthe fontanel of the fetus to confirm the position of the head. B, Aportion of the fetal head is visible during a contraction. This iscalled crowning. C, The perineum bulges and more of the fetalhead is visible as the woman bears down. Amniotic fluid dripsfrom the vaginal orifice. D, The perineum has been cleansed withan antibacterial solution as the fetal head begins extension. Notethe distention of the perineum and anus. E, The head is about tobe born. Note the thinning, redness, and distention of the perinealarea. An episiotomy may be performed at this stage to enlarge thevaginal opening. Also note the fetal monitor that is in place on themother’s abdomen that allows continuous monitoring of the FHR.A BDCEContinued
  28. 28. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-13, cont’d The birth of the baby. F, The physiciansupports the perineum as the head emerges. G, The physicianchecks for the cord around the neck. H, The perineum is covered asthe head is born and the physician prepares to use a bulb syringe toclear the infant’s airway. I, The physician exerts gentle pressure onthe head to release the anterior shoulder from under the symphysispubis. The posterior shoulder quickly follows and the baby is born.F GHI
  29. 29. Nursing Care During Labor and Pain Management CHAPTER 8 123centa if the maternal side is expelled first (Duncan mecha-nism). The third stage places the woman at risk for hemor-rhage; therefore assessment of the amount of bleeding,the woman’s blood pressure, and pulse is very important.The nurse records the time the placenta is expelled andwhether it delivered spontaneously. An oxytocic drug (e.g.,pitocin) may be given to the woman after the placenta is de-livered to help the uterine muscles contract and thereby re-duce the amount of blood loss. The placenta is examined bythe health care provider to determine if it is intact (Figure8-14).THE IMMEDIATE RECOVERY PERIODThe recovery period, sometimes referred to as the fourthstage of labor, is the stage of physical recovery for themother. It lasts from the delivery of the placenta throughthe first 1 to 4 hours after birth. The greatest danger to themother in the first hour after birth is hemorrhage.Vital signsare taken, and an ice bag is often applied to the perineum toreduce the amount of edema that occurs because of traumaor an episiotomy. The location and firmness of the uterinefundus is assessed and the fundus massaged as needed. Theamount and color of lochia (vaginal discharge) are assessedCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-13, cont’d The birth of the baby. J, The newborn in-fant, covered with thick white vernix, is lifted onto the abdomen ofthe mother, where the cord is cut. K, The newborn is placed in theradiant warmer, where gentle resuscitative measures such asbulb syringe suctioning and whiffs of oxygen are provided. Notethe metal clamp on the umbilical cord. L, The nurse assists the fa-ther to cut the umbilical cord so that the disposable clamp can beapplied. (Courtesy Pat Spier, RN-C.)JLK
  30. 30. problems. Cold stress also causes an increase in the new-born’s baseline metabolic rate (BMR) in an effort to warmthe body. An increase in the BMR results in increased oxygenconsumption, which can lead to hypoxia (low blood oxygenlevel). Therefore once the baby is born, he or she is immedi-ately dried with a soft towel and placed on the back or sidein a heated crib or radiant warmer, with the neck slightly ex-tended (Figure 8-15). A hat may be placed on the head afterit is dried to prevent heat loss from this large body surfacearea. When the infant is removed from the radiant warmer,a warm blanket wrap should be applied.Cardiorespiratory support. The face is gently wiped to re-move excess mucus and amniotic fluid. The newborn is anobligate nose breather and will not breathe through themouth voluntarily if the nose is obstructed. Therefore nasalsuction with a bulb syringe contributes to a clear airway. Bulbsuctioning of the mouth prevents aspiration of mucus andamniotic fluid. As soon as the baby is placed in the radiantwarmer, a heart monitor is applied because the heart rate isthe most reliable indicator of need for resuscitation. A new-born with a heart rate greater than 100 beats/min will gener-ally need only suctioning. If cyanotic, supplemental blow-byoxygen can be given. A cyanotic newborn with a heart rateless than 100 beats/min requires stimulation by rubbing theback with a towel while being given blow-by oxygen. If rapidresponse to suction, oxygen, and tactile stimulation does notoccur, bag and mask resuscitation may need to be initiated bythe registered nurse or health care provider.Oxygen may be given as needed until the infant cries vig-orously. Acrocyanosis (a blue color to the hands and feet ofthe newborn) is normal because of sluggish peripheral cir-culation for the first few hours after birth.An Apgar score is assigned at 1 and 5 minutes after birth(Table 8-4). An Apgar score identifies the condition of thenewborn and determines if further resuscitation measuresare needed. A score of 7 to 10 indicates a baby who has goodcardiorespiratory function with minimal bulb suctioning as-sistance.and the return of sensation to the lower extremities docu-mented (see Chapter 13). The nursing assessment is per-formed every 15 minutes for at least 1 hour. The mothershould be encouraged to continue the mother-infant bond-ing process and be assisted to initiate breastfeeding.PHASE 1: IMMEDIATE CARE OF THE NEWBORNPhysiologic changes in the respiratory and circulatory sys-tems occur as the baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut.The newborn enters a series of stages of transition from in-trauterine to extrauterine life and for the first 8 hours maybe physiologically unstable. The first 30 minutes to 1 hour oflife is called the first period of reactivity and usually takesplace in the delivery room because the mother and newbornare usually kept together during the fourth (recovery) stageof labor. The physiologic changes in the newborn are dis-cussed in Chapter 9.NURSING CARE OF THE NEWBORNIN THE DELIVERY ROOMThe goals of care of the newborn in the delivery room in-clude the following:• Maintaining thermoregulation• Maintaining cardiorespiratory function• Identifying mother, partner, and newborn• Performing a brief assessment for anomalies• Documenting passage of meconium and urine• Facilitating parent-newborn bondingGloves are always worn when handling a newborn beforethe first bath because of the blood and amniotic fluid that ison the infant’s skin.Thermoregulation. Maintaining warmth of the newbornis important because hypothermia (low body temperature)forces the newborn to use glucose to warm his or her body,thereby causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Hypo-glycemia is associated with the development of neurologic124 UNIT FOUR LABOR AND BIRTHCopyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.FIGURE 8-14 Expulsion of the placenta. A, Schulze’s mechanism occurs when the fetal side of the placenta that isshiny and smooth is delivered first. B, Duncan mechanism occurs when the maternal side of the placenta, which is dulland rough, is delivered first. (Courtesy Pat Spier, RN-C.)A B